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Jim, Judy, and the Mighty St. Croix

Updated: Apr 11

Jim and Judy Freund didn't start their life together in the St. Croix River Valley. They both grew up on family farms, met, got married, and moved to the Valley - raising their family, establishing careers, and giving back to their community through successful careers in finance (Jim) and education (Judy), and through volunteerism.

A few decades later, they've acted on another impactful way to leave their mark here: establishing the St. Croix Valley Environmental Fund at St. Croix Valley Foundation.

Both Jim and Judy are passionate about environmental education and conservation. Their appreciation for nature and the outside world runs deep.

"We both grew up on small dairy farms in Wisconsin," says Jim, "and so we had respect for nature and the environment growing up on a farm.”

Those same farming communities also taught Jim and Judy lessons in generosity. The lessons, as Judy recalls, were practical.

"In a rural area, if anybody had a need, everybody rallied around it," says Judy. "It happened more than one or two times that a barn would burn down. Well, my good gracious! Everybody came over with food. They helped clean up. In some cases, they even helped build the barn."

The Freunds wanted to turn their values into action, too, so they seeded the Environmental Fund with a generous donation of $100,000 in 2021, and subsequent donations. The Freunds chose to establish the fund as a field of interest fund, allowing other passionate donors to contribute to it, too. In a few short years, through the generosity of many, the fund has already surpassed $500,000 - an important milestone in grantmaking.

“I guess we go by the philosophy that those that have been fortunate should be sharing more with others," says Jim. "I think we both feel that rather than share some of our available funds when we die, we’d rather do it now while we can see what’s happening to it, including the investment in the environmental education field of interest fund at St. Croix Valley Foundation.”

So what comes next?


In April of 2024, St. Croix Valley Foundation will award the first round of Environmental Grants to nonprofits in the region to support environmental education and conservation efforts. The Freunds are eagerly awaiting the grant launch.

“If I could wave a magic wand, I would really love the communities [throughout the St. Croix River Valley region] to feel connected – this concept of a watershed and the idea that it is what actually connects people," says Judy. "You have these very arbitrary boundaries that define communities: the city of Hudson, the town of Troy, school districts. But there’s another connection, and that indeed is environmental. It’s the river that’s running down. We’re connected with people up and down the river in really not only deep economic ways, but also in environmental ways.”

If you would like to get involved by donating to the Environmental Fund, visit St. Croix Valley Environmental Fund ( today.


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